Securing New Contracts through Marketing and Global Trade

Virginia Joplin was living in France when she decided she wanted to become a translator.

She did translation for multiple corporations before starting as a freelance translator in 1996. Now, Virginia’s Portland-based company, Verbio, has more than 500 corporate and government partners. Verbio offers language translation services for business, marketing, financial, legal and technical content in every language.

After landing a corporate customer in 2009 that needed translation services in sixteen different languages, Virginia realized she needed to start hiring employees. She now has eight full-time employees and dozens of independent contractors.

Virginia went to the SBDC in 2013 for help in marketing her business. She took a marketing basics class and the Advanced Small Business Management course. She also started working with an adviser, who helped her apply for a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant. Her adviser also helped her find the right sales metrics tool for Verbio.

“Sometimes it’s just needing to know I am on the right track,” Virginia said. “I know if I need something I can call him up or email him and say I need a sounding board.”

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Salty’s Pet Supply

Winner of Portland SBA’s Small Business Spirit Award 2015

Nancy Fedelem had been an employee of Salty’s Pet Supply for one year when she purchased the store from the owner in 2006.

Located on the historic and bustling Mississippi Avenue, Salty’s sells food, toys and accessories for cats, dogs, birds and other small animals.

Nancy went to the SBDC when she was looking to expand her business and open a second store. SBDC helped her prepare to have two businesses. She learned how to organize her finances, how to be a better manager for her employees and how to market her stores.

“Not only the support for what is needed to run a business, but also the emotional and personal support has been a great benefit,” Nancy said. “That extra support has been really important to me.”

She has also enjoyed meeting fellow small business owners while taking SBDC classes and has been inspired by their entrepreneurial efforts.

Nancy now has three stores and more than 20 employees. In addition to Salty’s, she owns Fang and Feather Neighborhood Pet Supply and South Paw Neighborhood Pet Supply.

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Precision Fiber Inc

18 Year Old Business Doubles Profits and Adds Employees

Angela Church started her own fiber optics splicing company in 1999 in Oregon City.

For many years, Angela ran the business while acting as a stay-at-home mom. But when she was ready to expand Precision Fiber Inc. and hire employees, the SBDC in Portland was there to help.

“What I gained from the SBDC was learning how to market my business and I gained a lot more customers from that,” Angela said.

Precision Fiber doubled its profits over a year after Angela went to the SBDC in 2016. The company now has 10 employees.

SBDC helped Angela move into a commercial property in Clackamas in 2017. The center guided Church in developing a loan package, which she presented to five different banks. Every bank she went to was interested, which allowed her to acquire a competitive rate.

“Without the SBDC’s help I don’t know if that would have been possible,” Angela said.

She’s now looking at purchasing a competitor, and Angela said she’ll be relying on SBDC’s assistance in the negotiation process.


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Pozole to the People

From an Idea to the Shelves at Whole Foods

Chris Bailey grew up eating pozole (a traditional Mexican stew made from hominy) for Sunday suppers.

After several years in the magazine industry, he launched his food business Pozole to the People in Portland.

In 2014, Chris started the SBDC’s Getting Your Recipe to Market program. Having worked at many restaurants in Portland, he hadn’t considered making a packaged food.

“The idea of creating a food product of quality and producing it safely in a glass jar that is shelf stable was kind of eye opening to me,” Chris said.

SBDC helped Chris decide how to process the pozole and decide which glass container to use. The center also connected him with the Portland Mercado commissary kitchen, where he prepares and packages his product.

“I view the services that were offered through the SBDC as a vital opportunity to network and to learn about what resources are there,” Chris said. “Portland has a vital food landscape, but for a foraging food entrepreneur, it’s hard to pick through everything out there.”

Pozole to the People can be found in New Seasons Markets, Whole Foods stores and at many local grocers. The vegetarian product can also be purchased online.

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Five Star Guitars

2016 National Small Business Person of the Year

Jeremie Murfin had been teaching lessons at Five Star Guitars in Beaverton for years when he and two other employees decided to buy the shop in 2012.

Jeremie and his co-owners went to the SBDC for guidance.

“In some cases, it was reassurance that we were doing some things correctly or well that we were unsure about,” he said.

The SBDC helped Jeremie rewrite the business plan for Five Star Guitars and connected the new owners with local banks. They were able to acquire a tenant improvement loan to build lesson studios, an office, warehouse and showroom floor in their new location.

“We’ve won industry and Small Business Administration awards, thanks in no small part to SBDC,” Jeremie said.

Five Star Guitars sells new and used instruments, amps and equipment. The shops also offers lessons and instrument repair services.

SBDC helped Jeremie and his co-owners better understand employee/employer relationships. SBDC also recommended he find a lawyer who could help them negotiate their lease, which they did.

“We finished the classes, but we didn’t lose touch with people,” Jeremie said. “It’s an ongoing relationship and resource for us.”

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